Mount Barker’s Mountain Pool, the Mount Barker Tourist (Caravan) Park, and Dunn Oval are all sited on land classified as the Dunn Bickle Community Land.
In 1892, Dunn Oval, once known as ‘Dunn Park,’ was donated by John Dunn, South Australian miller, Member of Parliament, and philanthropist. He transferred the land free of charge to the Mount Barker District Council “for the purposes of a recreation ground for the inhabitants of the District of Mount Barker.”
In 1898, Dr Leonard Watkins Bickle, early Mount Barker physician and surgeon, donated more than seven acres of land adjoining Dunn Park to the community, to serve as “a portion of a Recreation Ground.” This extension “would make it a recreation-ground worthy of the town, attracting visitors and so bring a benefit to the place” and where “along the creek a pleasant shaded walk could be enjoyed for a considerable distance.”
These generous gifts, which had largely fallen out of public awareness and local memory, were recognised in Mount Barker’s 2017 Development Plan.
Talk of trains is back in Mount Barker. What was old is new again! At a community meeting in 1896, the Hon Dr Cockburn “supported and also acknowledged the public spirit shown by Dr Bickle. An ornamental plantation such as had been suggested would be very attractive and also form a good advertisement for Mount Barker, seeing that it would come under the notice of the passers-by in the trains, while it would form an enjoyable and favorite resort.”
On the initiative of members of our Branch, interpretive signage acknowledging this history has been erected in the heritage area, on Mount Barker’s Linear Trail. The sign was funded by a Mount Barker District Council Community Grant. It is hoped that the information provided by the signage will inspire the community to not just protect, but also to regenerate Dunn and Bickle’s vision into the future.
More information about the Dunn and Bickle families can be accessed here: